Phillip Neal Jones Jr., 33, pleaded guilty Thursday, Sept. 23, in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota to being a felon in possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison. A sentencing hearing had yet to be set as of late Thursday afternoon.
Jones was indicted in mid-July, four months after a 6-year-old boy died from a gunshot wound in a Moorhead apartment in the 400 block of Sunrise Circle.
Court documents state the boy and an 8-year-old found a handgun under a box of snacks in the kitchen of an apartment where Jones lived. The children were playing with the gun, and the 8-year-old was holding it when it went off and hit the stove then the 6-year-old, court documents said.
Jones, who is a relative of the 6-year-old, was not in the apartment when the child was shot, court documents said. Four children, including the 6-year-old, were left at the apartment alone, court documents said.
DNA on the gun matched Jones, according to court documents.
Jones has several convictions on his record, including an attempted drive-by shooting from 2007 and multiple counts that say he illegally owned a firearm.
Guidelines said he should serve between 30 and 37 months in prison. Prosecutors plan to argue for a greater sentence but won’t ask for more than 57 months, according to the plea agreement.